Wednesday, 1 February 2023

ONLY Roll Initiative

What if initiative was the only roll in a combat system?

Less a question of "can I murder this horrible horse?" and more "can I murder it before it murders me?"

Let's imagine we start with Into the Odd. Replace the damage of each weapon by its average, rounding up. If it's something fancy like "roll a d4 and a d8 and keep the highest" then take the average of the high die and add 1 for each additional die being rolled. Yeah this isn't the same as the average but it's much easier to do on the fly.

So you might have:

Axe d6 = 4 damage
Musket d8 = 5 damage
Cool Sword 2d6 keep highest = 5 damage

If you want to use the Electric/Mythic Bastionland style ganging up rule then the first attack to resolve against a target does normal damage and additional attacks just do 1. 

Pretty straightforward. 

Now we're not rolling STR Saves to avoid Critical Damage. Instead, you take Critical Damage when you lose half or more of your STR in one attack. 

So your STR 18 monster goes down if they lose 9 STR, kind of unlikely, but if you chip them down to STR 12 first then you only need to hit them for 6 to deal Critical Damage. Do you have a weapon big enough?

But what's the point in all this? Let's get onto Initiative.

First the GM declares what the enemy are doing this turn in narrative terms. "The otyugh is going to spray toxic filth in the area around it and the goblins are aiming their bows at your pack mule." I probably wouldn't describe the exact mechanical impact but I'd at least want the players to get a sense of what to expect. If you're ambushing the enemy then they won't be doing anything this turn. 

Then have the players discuss and declare what they're each doing specifically.

Then we all roll initiative. 

A d6 for each combatant. We work down from highest roll to lowest, with ties resolving simultaneously. You're locked into your action, so you can't change your mind based on what's already been resolved. 

Now you can add in some trickery where players can manipulate the initiative roll in certain ways, or their gear impacts their roll, but that's the core of it right there. In the ambush example maybe you just manage to get your guard up when your turn resolves, so you won't be fighting but there's a chance you won't be completely exposed. 

If you've got enough armour and weapons that you can just stomp the enemy even if they get their hits in first then congrats, at least this will be done quickly.

If it's more of an even fight then sure you can just hope you get your hits in first, or bank on being able to take a bit of recovery time afterwards, but is this fight really worth it? Wouldn't you rather slip away and ambush them later?

If the enemy outclasses you then you really have to decide if it's worth it. Maybe you know that any given attack from this purple worm will kill one of your characters, and you don't have enough power to take it out in a single round. Somebody's going to die if you fight this thing, how can it not be one of your characters?

Sure there's a bit of bookkeeping involved with big combats, perhaps requiring you to jot down what each combatant is doing so that things don't get muddled, but I think this could be a fun experiment to play out. 

By the time your sword bounces off its iron hide it's already too late.

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Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Some Swords are More Special than Others

The arms list of Mythic Bastionland sees some shuffling around compared to Electric Bastionland and Into the Odd. The most notable additions are Specialist Weapons that grant a bonus in a specific situation, and Swords, which let you roll two dice. A longsword, for example, rolls 2d6, keeping the highest.

While this means you’re doing more reliably high damage with your attacks, it also means you’re more likely to roll a 6, which triggers an Onslaught in the new combat rules, letting you carry out an extra effect.

While the weapons list lacks prices, there’s a rough separation into Common, Specialist, and Rare Arms, with swords placed firmly in the latter. This is because swords are special.

Most Knights don’t begin the game with a sword. Getting hold of one can be a story in itself. Perhaps you’ll find one while investigating a myth, a grateful ruler might grant you one, or you might find a smith with enough expertise you forge you a brand new blade. If you find a Knight you consider to be unworthy of their sword then do the world a favour and take it for yourself.

There is also The Blade, but that’s a story for another time.

But what if we wanted to make a really special sword? Well we’re always rolling two dice, so let’s say there’s a special effect when those dice match.

Swords of Power

These swords all do 2d6 damage. When these two dice match reference the value of the matching dice to the table for the sword being wielded. These powers only work in real combat, not mere sparring.

Brand of Cursed Blessings

1: You feel the weight of your past failures. Gain Malice.
2: You feel the true weight of the sword. Gain Fatigue.
3: You feel blood-thirst rising. Gain Wrath.
4: You feel unsatisfied. Gain Passion.
5: Treat this result as 10.
6: Treat this result as 12.

Eye Cutter

1: The wielder is blinded until the end of the combat. They are Exposed and their attacks Impaired.
2: The wielder is dazzled until the end of their next turn. They are Exposed and their attacks Impaired.
3: The sword glows, a steely scream from within. Foes of weak mind face Wavering Morale.
4: A searing light flies from the blade. This is an extra attack for d6 damage, ignoring armour.
5: The enemy is dazzled until the end of their next turn. They are Exposed and their attacks Impaired.
6: The enemy is blinded until the end of the combat. They are Exposed and their attacks Impaired.

Fang-o-Fortune

1: Place a die aside showing 1. You can switch any future roll made by the GM with this die.
2: You must declare a vision of the future, which must be uncertain but achievable by the end of the day. If you do not achieve it by the end of the day, gain Wrath.
3: The fang haunts you with visions of your failure. Gain Dread.
4: An alternative present emerges. Remove one Scar gained by yourself or an Ally.
5: Helpful visions relieve one Burden gained today by you or an Ally.
6: Place a die aside showing 6. You can switch any future roll made by you with this die.

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Art by Midjourney
This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Faunic Tutors

There are more.


Blood Drinker Ox
Aface ared in fields avune
Aveins, a pulse apower attune
With cloven hoof he crushed red grain
A gory mark on face and mane
But all who'd felted wash of blood spied a noble grace
In eye and maw of goring beast a warm familiar face


Emerald Panther
In forest deep the treasures sleep averdant eyes naysleep
He guards with maw on silent paw with jaded thew and claw
But from  those seeds an envy feeds and drinks upon the soul
For wealth untold sees green now old in empty lonely hole


Fairy Squirrel
Beneath the boughs astage a spiteful play
Bewitch-ed magic holds its court of grey
Be seeking her in only grave dismay
Beware the nut and thorn and end of day
Before her eyes all veils afall away
Beneath the boughs astage a spiteful play



Longly Viper
Longly Viper slick and quick
New heights his only drive
With every writhe, he'll rise and climb
Upinto darker mind

On his quest he'll snick and sly
Leaving foes for dead
Yet no quest can touch asky
Cold stomach left unfed


Bespotted Wasp
Bespotted Wasp
Alone and free
He'll always be

True to innerself
Gold that cannnot bend
Special to end

Never longing of stripe
A life led always true
Ah! No finer virtue


Fat Crow
Unblacketh oily silkyquill unfatteth rolly bird
Inbranch away he taken fliyt awy awo awerd

Cawdun croak and crack and cray a coven voice dun hallow
In warns of great unglotten fest and faminous unfallow

Now heeden close if yam harth aught
A wazzock's words low sense or nought

Yet hark them riddling rhymes and bluster
Afore yam cannot gawp or chunter

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Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Beasts, Vicious and Knowing

This Mythic place is full of beasts, but not the dumb creatures of our prophesised future. 

They birthed the fables, ushering our children into sleep.

In turn, the fables changed them. Embodiments of those old tales of virtue and vice. 

Uncaring faunic tutors, at once purposeful and wild. Unspeaking, but as rich a text as any story or song. 


Blind Boar
All condole his sightless leer
Yet he walk and wander all-no fear
Those eyes a clouded cold abyss
Still he roamed, no hoof amiss


Roaring Coot
A creature of the most aloud in flap and honk and bellow
Cried so loud the sky a-fell down star and moon o'yellow
Sky saw the bird
Without a word
A screaming rise!
The heavens shot asky so fast no swifted bird might follow


Deathly Crocodile
A snap of jaws, twisting down
To a greenly grave, notten found
In the low water, soul-glutton vile
His snap bring blood, his eye bring bile


Witchy Goat
In a rainful spring
when the newgoats sing
a pale one listens from the gloom

one for pity
two for luck
but horns-of-three calls curs-ed doom


Talking Hyena
Of all the creatures blessed with tongue
Hyenas squander most
It speaks alone as luring lies
So death may soon approach


Mole-a-Brightly
Mole a-Brightly, great of mind
But untouched thoughts, so hard to find
Scrawl and scramble, deep in earth
A dark domain of lauded worth

But as he grows, his mind doth close
To those unseen, he turns his nose
He cannot see beyond his own
Flinching from the path unknown

Yet how he shines, a bright light still!
His wisdom sought, his counsel skilled
But oh the cost, of being blind
To all but what he knows to find

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Art by Midjourney

This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.